NebuAd, the company that planned to enable Internet Service Providers to offer behavioral advertising based on a person’s web surfing history, has shut its doors, according to MediaPost, which cites court documents. The controversial service, which is akin to Phorm in the UK, had conducted advertising trials with several U.S. ISP including Cable One and CenturyTel. When it signed up Charter as a customer last summer, a backlash ensued that led to a congressional investigation into such targeted advertising and the refocusing of the company.
NebuAd was pushing the envelope on behavioral advertising. In doing so, it attempted to fulfill the dreams of ISPs by letting them get into the lucrative online advertising game, but consumers rebelled against the intrusion. NebuAd filed papers noting its demise in the U.S. District Court of San Francisco as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by consumers angered over the loss of their privacy.
Meanwhile the search for better behavioral advertising lives on. Today the Future of Privacy Forum, a privacy group backed by AT&T, announced a research project designed to develop privacy notifications “that will resonate with consumers.” I’m sure they meant to say that they will figure out the best way to develop privacy notices that will be easily understood and enable consumers to opt in if they want. Members of the research working group include ad firm WPP, AOL, AT&T, eBay, Facebook, Intel, The Nielsen Co., TRUSTe, Verizon and Yahoo. However, looking at the members of the working group, and their obvious interest in behavioral advertising, I can’t help but distrust the results of their research before the project even begins.